‘Many fathers’ of FATF success

Published June 19, 2022
This combo photo shows former prime minister Imran Khan (far left), PTI leader Hammad Azhar, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — Photos: DawnNewsTV?Twitter
This combo photo shows former prime minister Imran Khan (far left), PTI leader Hammad Azhar, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — Photos: DawnNewsTV?Twitter

ISLAMABAD: A baffling race is currently underway to take credit for the positive response that Pakistan received from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at its meeting in Berlin on Friday, brightening the chances of Islamabad’s removal from the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog’s ‘grey list’.

The scramble to take credit for the development was summed up poignantly by PPP stalwart Farhatullah Babar, who stated that some of those who were taking credit may actually have been the ones responsible for Pakistan landing on the grey list in the first place, without elaborating further.

As soon as the FATF announced that Pakistan had met all of its 34 conditions, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan in a series of tweets credited his government with leading the country to this achievement.

Again, while presiding over a meeting of party spokespersons at his Banigala residence on Saturday, Mr Khan congratulated Hammad Azhar — who was energy minister in the PTI cabinet and the previous government’s point main for anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing efforts — as well as the members and officers of the FATF coordinating committee for “working hard to achieve the milestone to ensure Pakistan’s delisting from FATF grey list”.

Editorial: Pakistan moving closer to FATF grey list exit is good news but shouldn't be grounds for complacency

On the other hand, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also felicitated the nation and government institutions, personalities and the relevant teams over the development and particularly “appreciated the performance of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and the members of team of the Foreign Ministry” who represented the country at the meeting.

Mr Sharif said the efforts of the basic cell related to FATF and of military and civil leadership included in it, were praiseworthy and the credit went to them for their work in this national endeavour.

PM Sharif said the statement of FATF was a recognition of the restoration of the international reputation of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also came out with a series of statements praising their party chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for “successful diplomacy” during his recent foreign visits thus paving the way for the country’s removal from the `grey list’ of the Paris-based FATF.

According to PPP’s media office, PM Sharif on Saturday spoke to Mr Bhutto-Zardari over telephone and “congratulated” him over the achievement. According to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb the prime minister also made a telephone call to the army chief and “lauded his decision to set up the core cell at the GHQ”.

Amid political parties’ wrangling over the issue, a military spokesman termed the development “a great achievement” and gave credit to the “civil-military team” and mainly to the core cell set up at the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi for it.

The prime minister during his telephonic conversation with Gen Bajwa praised the civil and military members in the core cell and the military leadership for their efforts in this regard, stating that the nation felt proud of each member of the cell.

Mr Sharif also made separate phone calls to Ms Khar and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and paid tributes to them over the development.

Interestingly, where political rivals were unwilling to acknowledge each other’s efforts, they were unanimous in praising the military’s role in the development.

PTI’s vice president Dr Shireen Mazari on Saturday blasted the coalition government for trying to take the credit of the FATF’s positive decision, recalling as to how these parties while in opposition had resorted to “blackmailing tactics” and opposed the much-needed FATF-related legislations.

Ms Mazari in her statement said the “imported government can try to take undue credit for the landmark achievements but Pakistan knew them well, as they opposed the FATF bills in Parliament in 2020”.

“Let’s be clear, FATF removal [is] based on concrete legal actions not on diplomatic skills, therefore, all credit goes to PTI and its team,” she added in an apparent reference to the efforts separately made by the PPP to portray FM Bhutto-Zardari as the main hero behind the achievement.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

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